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Florida Produce: Strawberries

December 7, 2009

Florida is known for being the largest producer of strawberries during the winter, and the primary growing area is Plant City.  Strawberries are available from November until the beginning of April, with peak months of production in February and March.

How to buy
Choose strawberries that are plump, fragrant and firm, with no signs of bruising, leaking or mold on the bottom of the container and no greenish white shoulders at the stem.

Tips for storage
It is always best to eat strawberries the day of purchase. The best way to store strawberries is to cook them into a sauce or jam. You can freeze strawberries by hulling, lightly washing and then drying them. Next, freeze them on a tray in a single layer before transferring them to a freezer bag with the date.

Cooking tips
Never hull strawberries until they have been washed or they will absorb too much water and become mushy and waterlogged. There are many modern and traditional recipes for strawberries, but the best way to enjoy them is how nature intended – simply prepared and fresh.

Flavors well with
Balsamic vinegar, cereal, cheese, chocolate, honey, mint

Each post is better with a delicious recipe from our Chef Justin. Here’s another that I have tried and promise you is so good!

Strawberry Clouds
Yield 4 to 6 Servings

Ingredients
2 cups fresh Florida strawberries, rinsed, dried, hulled and sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
Powdered or superfine sugar to taste
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Preparation

In a chilled bowl, whip the cream and a tablespoon of the powdered sugar until soft peaks start to form. Slowly fold in the yogurt, adding only small amounts of the lemon juice and zest at a time. Taste as you go, adding more lemon or sugar if needed. In the bottom of six small bowls or one large bowl, add the sliced strawberries in an even layer on the bottom. Cover the strawberries with the whipped cream mixture, being careful not to compress the whipped mixture. Sprinkle the top with the light brown sugar and carefully smooth the sugar over with the back of a small spoon until the cream mixture is completely covered. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours until sugar forms a crust. Serve cold with whole strawberries on the side.

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